Is Pfizer Benefiting From Negligence?

Pfizer announces partnership with Merck to develop a new drug to treat Type 2 Diabetes… the very disease that their blockbuster medication, LIPITOR® is accused of causing.

A number of recent studies have revealed an increased risk for LIPITOR users to develop Type 2 Diabetes.  Lawsuits are mounting against Pfizer, the drug’s creator; alleging negligence because the pharmaceutical behemoth knew of this risk and failed to warn patients.

In the wake of this pending litigation, Pfizer made a surprising announcement last month that it is out-licensing its diabetes drug candidate (ertugliflozin) to its big-pharma rival, Merck.

“We are pleased to join forces with Merck in the battle against type 2 diabetes and the burden that it poses on global health,” said John Young, president and general manager, Pfizer Primary Care. “Through this collaboration, we believe we can build on Merck’s leadership position in diabetes care with the introduction of ertugliflozin, an innovative SGLT2 inhibitor discovered by Pfizer scientists.”

Pfizer may be hedging their risk of potential multi-million dollar Lipitor negligence lawsuits on multiple fronts.  Patients taking Lipitor may be at risk to develop Type 2 Diabetes, thereby seemingly insuring the corporate giant more customers for their new diabetes treatment.  Additionally, Merck is already well-positioned in the oral treatment of diabetes with their own medication, Januvia.  The two companies hope to release ertugliflozin both as a solo drug and in combination with Januvia.

With ertugliflozin entering into Phase III trials later this year, it will be interesting to see how Pfizer addresses this issue in relation to the pending Lipitor class-action suits and the burden many claim Lipitor imposes on their health.


Further Reading:

NTSB Recommends Lowering BAC to .05

by Arthur Elk

In a report released earlier this week, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that all 50 states should lower the threshold for drunk driving from .08 to .05 blood alcohol content (BAC).  According to the Washington Post, “That’s about one drink for a woman weighing less than 120 pounds, two for a 160-pound man.”

The board said levels as low as .01 were found to affect performance on driving-related skills.  They also cited a 2012 study which found “significant cognitive decrements in speed of information processing, reductions in working memory, and increases in errors of commission at 0.048 BAC.”

The number of alcohol-related highway fatalities dropped from 20,000 in 1980 to 9,878 in 2011, according to the NTSB.  However, they feel the rates have stagnated and feel lowering the BAC rate would save about 500 to 800 lives each year:

Over the past three decades, the number of lives lost per year in alcohol-related traffic crashes has dropped substantially. However, most of this reduction took place during the 1980s and early 1990s; since then, progress in this safety area has been relatively slow. Since 2000, nearly 150,000 people have lost their lives in crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers, and these crashes continue to account for over 30 percent of all traffic fatalities. — NTSB, “Reaching Zero: Actions to Eliminate Alcohol-Impaired Driving

The last move from .10 to .08 BAC levels took 21 years for all states to implement, with the last state adopting the standard in 2004.  That move was prompted in part by an Appropriations Act that included the landmark provision that states must enact .08 BAC laws by 2004 or begin losing federal highway construction funds. Prior to the enactment of this bill, only nineteen states had enacted .08 BAC

Response to the report has been mixed.  So far, safety groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and AAA have declined to endorse the proposed .05 limit The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, while not endorsing the board’s recommendation, said in a statement that they “…will work with any state that chooses to implement a .05 BAC law to gather further information on that approach.”

At Elk & Elk, we have seen the serious consequences of drunk driving far too many times.  There is no reason we should allow 10,000 people a year to die when we have the ability to pass laws to prevent such senseless deaths.  If anybody has more than one drink, they should not be behind the wheel of an automobile.  

If .05 will save lives, let’s do it now.

If you or a loved one have been injured by a drunk driver, we will fight to help you get the compensation you deserve. Our Ohio auto accident attorneys are available 24/7 to serve you. We offer free consultations and never charge anything unless you recover.

Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO (1-800-355-6446) or contact us online to schedule your free consultation. For your convenience, we maintain offices throughout Ohio.

Lipitor Lawsuit

Pfizer’s blockbuster cholesterol-lowering medication LIPITOR® (atorvastatin) has recently been associated with an increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes in women.  Lawsuits have been filed in courts around the country claiming that Pfizer failed to warn doctors and patients about the potential risks involved with using the drug.

South Carolina – Evalina Smalls thought she was being proactive.  After hearing claims that Lipitor could reduce the risk of Cardiovascular Disease by lowering her “bad” cholesterol, she agreed to begin Lipitor treatment in 1999.  At the time, she was very healthy.  She had a BMI (body mass index) of 24.8 and maintained a healthy diet. Ten years later, as a result of taking Lipitor, Evalina was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.

Now, for the rest of her life, Evalina must undergo regular testing of her blood glucose levels, adhere to a restrictive diabetic diet, and take medication to control her diabetes.  Due to her diabetes, she is now at much higher risk to develop blindness, neuropathy (nerve damage), kidney disease, and ironically, the very heart disease she sought to avoid in the first place.

There was no warning.  No mention at all in the fine print about the risk of diabetes from taking Lipitor.  If she had been fully informed, she might have made a different decision… or at least monitored her blood glucose levels.  But she never had that choice.

Finally, in 2012, after a comprehensive review, the FDA began requiring additional warnings about the risks of increased blood sugars and Type 2 Diabetes on labels of Lipitor. The Division of Metabolism and Endocrinology Products of the FDA based these new warnings on information from a number of studies that had been available to Pfizer for years.

Evalina Smalls, along with a growing number of women, has filed a lawsuit against Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant that makes Lipitor, seeking compensation for a life permanently altered.  In addition to her failure to warn claim, Smalls has included claims of negligence, breach of warranty, fraud, and unjust enrichment in her lawsuit against Pfizer. She seeks compensatory damages to make her whole for losses due to pain, suffering, and medical expenses, as well as punitive damages.

A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in January 2012 specifically focused on the diabetes risk for women using Lipitor and other statins. Researchers looked at data on more than 160,000 women who participated in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) between 1993 and 2005. Among women between the ages of 50 and 79, researchers found that women using Lipitor were 48% more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes.

Lipitor went on sale in 1997, the year the Food and Drug Administration first allowed drug ads targeting consumers. Pfizer spent tens of millions on ads, including on the popular drama ER, first urging patients to “Know Your Numbers” and then showing patients discussing how Lipitor helped them get their cholesterol numbers below guideline goals.  As a result of this aggressive promotion and withholding information about the risk of diabetes with Lipitor use by women, Pfizer generated more than $125 billion in Lipitor sales.

Contact us for a free consultation if you are a post-menopausal woman and have taken Lipitor.  At Elk & Elk, we put our resources to work for you.

Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO or contact us online to see for yourself the serious work we do here at Elk & Elk: the home of serious lawyers for serious injuries.

Click HERE For more information about Lipitor and Type 2 Diabetes.